samedi 30 avril 2011

Yet more stonework!

After dawn scything a long day wall building. Its always difficult to keep it plumb and true when working at the top of a ladder, but it's good enough.

vendredi 29 avril 2011


Another long day, planting the last few vegetables in the early morning - carrots, chard, spinach, radishes, turnip and parsley. A bit of weeding and my first strawberry! The bullfinch is sitting on 5 eggs.

Then off to Pont to cut the grass and do more pointing - another 2-3 days should see the end of it then it's just a floor, some second fix joinery and a bit of painting.

Home in the late afternoon for yet more pointing on the ruin and placing the lintols.

mercredi 27 avril 2011

More stonework

A lovely day, so I stayed home and continued with the stonework here. Good progress building the seat of the window and doing a lot of the external corner and pointing. Lots of visitors too, Annie, Lucette, the mayor and a couple researching their second cousins who used to live here.

mardi 26 avril 2011


Another morning stone pointing at Pont in the last and fourth bedroom. After a trip to St Girons to chivvy the Notaire along with the land purchases I headed for home for a little more wall building.

dimanche 24 avril 2011


All day digging out compacted rocks and clay behind the front wall of the ruin. Good to have finished floor level inside the extension. When the showers started I did some yoga before peening the scythe.

A day of sunshine and showers.

samedi 23 avril 2011


Up at dawn today scything fields 1, 2, 3 and 4 before the rain started at 9.00am. It was torrential until about 2.30, bringing fresh snow to the mountains above 2000m.

By 11.00 I was at Pont to check out the tenants and continue with the works there...another 7-10 days should see it finished. I called in on Jason and Grace on the way home whose 5 kids are in various stages of measles.

Home at 3.00 to finish scything fields 5 and 6, before demolishing the front wall of the ruin and moving more rocks. Phew!

jeudi 21 avril 2011

Other news from the week.

We also managed to get some work done here at Quelebu during the holiday. The garden was dug over and we planted potatoes, courgettes, celery, aubergines, beetroot, lettuces, onions and leeks...more to follow this week.

We "excavated" what will be a new doorway from the ruin into the entrance porch (the existing ground level is still at first floor level on one side) and Jasper and I built the oak door frame and lintols...I'll probably put this in tomorrow.
A pair of bullfinches have decided to nest in the holly bush in the front garden.

Jasper and Ruby

Ah those beautiful children...!

Cabane d'Eychelle (raquettes)

The expedition leader!

Lunch spot

An overnight snowshoeing expedition to the Cabane d'Eychelle with Susie, Jasper and Ruby. After a late morning start from the Col de la Core with large packs, we picnicked below the frozen Etang d'Eychelle before pressing on in our snowshoes to the cabane. It was still clean and my my cache of wine, food and firewood safe (though I took a while to find it again).
We spot our home for the night (to the left of Jasper in the snow)
The comedy duo

Ruby tests the snow thickness.

Jasper and Ruby found a tiny mouse which was tame enough to stroke.
"Timmy nuts"

We climbed up to point 2246m above the Col d'Aubies before returning to the cabane for supper around the fire. Alas I forgot the sausages, but we had plenty of other food and some lentils made for a windy night!
Ruby on the summit at 2246m

After a cosy night in the hut, we descended before the snow got too soft.

Descending in the morning

On the way home we also found a fire salamander.

A stroll in the woods

Heading for the Col
Above Cominac
Picnic time

We return to fantastic summer like weather in the Pyrenees. A lovely walk local walk to the Col de Boulogne and Cominac to start off the holiday. We spotted 2 different species of swallowtail butterfly and a black woodpecker.

Bristol Airport - stupidity or profiteering?

After dropping Susie, Jasper, Ruby and our luggage off at the railway station in Totnes I went off to park the car and join them. Incredibly after 20 minutes of searching I was still unable to find anywhere to park and ended up missing the train! I managed to catch a later one and still make the flight - just.

At Bristol airport I encountered the most incredible idiocy. As required by UK airport regulations, every time I fly I put the toiletries in my hand luggage (liquids and gels) in a clear ziplock plastic bag and ensure that they are less than 100ml each. Never a problem. Only now Bristol airport has decided that this isn't good enough - the ziplock bag must measure exactly 20cm x 20cm! Mine was 20cm x 24cm and so they detained me and then destroyed all the contents of my ziplock bag because my bag was the wrong size. I was f***ing furious and ready for a major argument but they were calling my flight and had to settle for telling the guy what I thought of his interpretation of international flight security add insult to injury I was allowed to keep the plastic bag. I wish it had been a bit bigger because then I could have used it to suffocate him.

The UK Government says that the bag should be approximately 20cm x 20cm NOT exactly 20cm x 20cm. Bristol airport is profiteering by selling the 20cm x 20cm bags for £1 each. Know your rights!!


A week long trip to Devon enjoying some lovely spring weather. Trips to the gardens at Dartington, the beach with the Dares (where Pearl became a mermaid) a trip to Herefordshire to visit Susie's sister and my dad and even time for some home improvements, this time in the living room. Now we're all off to the Pyrenees!

mercredi 6 avril 2011

Cabane d'Eychelle

Etang d'Eychelle still frozen

The panorama from the Cabane
Cabane d'Eychelle
A quick trip upto the Cabane d'Eychelle today carrying firewood and some rations for an overnight trip with Susie, Jasper and Ruby next week (cache safely hidden away). It was snow shoes all the way and the wood weighed a tonne! Spent a couple of hours cleaning the Cabane which was filthy and took down a huge bag of rubbish, though another is still there awaiting removal (I could only carry one).
All neat and tidy...there's a fireplace too

We're in the middle of a heat wave here, glorious temperatures up in the 30's - spring has definitely sprung, feels like summer.

dimanche 3 avril 2011

Owl pellet

A bit more concreting today - in much cooler weather thankfully.

Another fruitless search for morels in the afternoon - a larger tour to the Col de Boulogne, Col de Bidal and high above Cane. The first orchids are out and I found an owl pellet for later dissection!
My ham is also finally nearly ready - its the first ham I've done off the bone but has matured beautifully.

samedi 2 avril 2011

Works back home

A glorious day today - 37 in the sun, I'm burnt and knackered.

Pressed on with making shuttering, and then capping the rear wall of the ruin with concrete. Then I demolished the remains of the gable to the approximate level of the final wall. This will need capping with concrete also to stabilise it, but first there is a doorway to create through's 70cm thick...oh boy!

vendredi 1 avril 2011


Bedroom 2
Little bedroom 3

The attic bedrooms at Pont are beginning to take shape...but with the return of good weather (32 today and still 22 after the sun had set) I'll be working on the extension this weekend.